NYC’s Drone Permits: A Flight Through Bureaucratic Hurdles

City's Mayor, Eric Adams, has boldly stepped into the future, announcing plans to infuse the city's operations with cutting-edge . To ensure that “drone use doesn't spin out of control,” a stringent regulatory framework and elaborate permitting process have been rolled out. But this development isn't without its critics. Detractors argue that it's not drone usage but the overly complex and pricey permitting system itself that's truly spiraling out of control.

NYC's drone permitting process spins out of control

Mayor Adams was jubilant as he announced the city's forward-thinking plans. “Today, New York City, we're flying into the future, using drones to make city services faster and safer,” he stated.

The Mayor stressed the importance of regulating this emerging technology, saying, “These rules that we are announcing today will allow city agencies and other entities to harness the potential of drone technology while ensuring that drone use doesn't spin out of control.”

Up until July 21, 2023, the launching and landing of Unmanned Aircraft (UA), including drones, in New York City were mostly forbidden under section 10-126(c) of the city's administrative code. With the new rule, 38 RCNY 24, individuals and organizations can apply for permits to use drones within the city limits.

The use of aircraft, whether manned or unmanned, in New York City has long been strictly regulated under the longstanding “Avigation” law established in 1948.

The law prohibits aircraft take-off or landing in the city, except in emergencies or at specified landing sites. However, the new permitting process, which took effect this July, now allows for drone operations within the city, provided a permit has been obtained.

The application for these permits involves a thorough vetting process carried out by the New York Department (NYPD) and the (DOT). If a drone is to capture or transmit images, audio, or video, operators are required to notify the relevant community boards and post public notices in the areas they plan to record.

New York City'S Mayor, Eric Adams, Has Boldly Stepped Into The Future, Announcing Plans To Infuse The City'S Operations With Cutting-Edge Drone Technology. To Ensure That &Quot;Drone Use Doesn't Spin Out Of Control,&Quot; A Stringent Regulatory Framework And Intricate Permitting Process Have Been Rolled Out.

Despite the rigorous process, critics argue that the regulations are overly strict and may discourage smaller operations from obtaining permits.

“The permit system only protects the large media companies and limits individuals' rights to document and create content,” drone operator Eddie Nunez posted on Twitter.

New York City'S Mayor, Eric Adams, Has Boldly Stepped Into The Future, Announcing Plans To Infuse The City'S Operations With Cutting-Edge Drone Technology. To Ensure That &Quot;Drone Use Doesn't Spin Out Of Control,&Quot; A Stringent Regulatory Framework And Intricate Permitting Process Have Been Rolled Out.

The penalties for unauthorized drone operation can be severe, with fines ranging from $250 for a first offense to $1,000 for subsequent offenses. The NYPD can also deny permits if they believe the operation could endanger public safety, and while denied applicants can appeal, the $150 application fee is non-refundable.

Despite the controversy, the city is forging ahead with its futuristic vision. Mayor Adams emphasized the potential of drone technology to enhance the city's operations.

“Drones are going to allow us to make façade inspections faster and safer, help us inspect and maintain our bridges, tunnels, and critical infrastructure, and allow us to monitor our beaches more easily for unauthorized swimmers and hazardous conditions, among other things.”

As the world's most iconic city takes to the skies, it will be interesting to see how these new rules play out in the coming months and years.

Photo courtesy of NYC Mayor's Office


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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